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November 24, 2012

News Briefs: Recruiting best practices, harassment, tips to de-escalate tense situations, oversharing, and more

Benchmarking best practices for recruitment - HR Daily Advisor sheds light on current best practices in recruitment based on the results of a recent survey conducted by Monster.com and BLR’s HR Daily Advisor and HRhero Line. The first article on survey results - Big Job Boards Are Now the #1 Recruiting Source - discusses recruiting sources, typical advertising expenditures, and the use of computer/software Applicant Tracking Systems. The second article about the survey results focuses on Best Practice for Internet Background Checks, and how employers are using social media and Google background checks in their hiring practices.

Harassment - Can an employer be liable for the harassment of employees by nonemployees, even though an employer's control over nonemployees is limited? The issue of liability hinges on the reasonableness of corrective actions taken by the employer, according to a recent letter issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for guidance. The folks at Wolters Kluwer discuss the EEOC letter on Title VII liability for non-employee harassment of employees and its implications.

The art of de-escalation - A recent issue of Occupational Health & Safety offers excellent tips for Handling Difficult Customers in a Public Service Environment - situations in which there is a potential safety concern about the angry or menacing customer. The author's tips appear useful in a variety of other potentially confrontational settings, too, including management settings. Author Carol Fredrickson says that "The most important thing to remember is that the angry person wants to be heard! He will not calm down until he believes you are truly interested in listening to his point of view or his problem."

Obsessive sharing disorder? - In the age of social media, many people live in public in a way that never occurred before. That means we are often learning more about our coworkers, much of it stuff that we never wanted to know. Daniel Schwartz of Connecticut Employment Law Blog looks at potential legal issues related to this in his post Oversharing at Work: When Gossip Turns Into Something More. The post includes an interesting 20-minute video discussion on issues related to oversharing in the workplace, moderated by Nancy Redd of HuffPost. Participants include Schwartz, Liz Ryan, CEO of Human Workplace, and Eric B. Meyer Partner at the Labor and Employment Group at Dilworth Paxson and Publisher of The Employer Handbook.

Innie or an Outie? - Are you an introvert or an extrovert, and how does that personality type affect your management style? Trainingmag.com offers an excerpt from the book “Managing for People Who Hate Managing.” Author Devora Zack discusses distinguishing features of introverts and extroverts and looks at ways that they communicate differently, including strengths, go-to styles, and challenges.

Managing Multigenerationals - Chip Luman notes that today’s work force encompasses four distinct generations, with more than 50 years separating some employees. He cautions about making assumptions about people based on these generations, noting that, "...singling out certain individuals for key roles based on their age tends to drive division rather than bring people together." For example, recent college grads may be expert at social media, but that expertise doesn't necessarily translate into an understanding of how to apply that knowledge to business use.

Cool Tool - The 2012 College Rankings from Washington Monthly are a different kind of college guide. It factors in social responsibility issues such as cost and the institution's value for a commitment to service into its rankins. The intro says, " Every year we lavish billions of tax dollars and other public benefits on institutions of higher learning. This guide asks: Are we getting the most for our money?"

Tackling Obesity - Research shows that by 2010, all 50 states will have obesity rates exceeding 44%, leading to millions of additional cases of type 2 diabetes, stroke and coronary heart disease, as well as arthritis and hypertension. Jennifer Lubell of amednews looks at how 4 states are fighting obesity by targeting younger populations to encourage healthy weights and physical activity.

Quick Takes


esi.JPG Learn how ESI Employee Assistance Program can help address your employees' wellbeing issues - from a wellness benefits and help for everyday work-life matters to comprehensive assistance for a wide array of potentially disruptive issues and problems.

November 17, 2012

Jeff Hancock: The future of lying

An Associate Professor of Cognitive Science and Communications at Cornell University, Jeff Hancock's research has focused on how people use deception and irony when communicating through cell phones and online platforms.

"On average, people tell one to two lies a day, and these lies range from the trivial to the more serious, including deception between friends and family, in the workplace, and in politics. At the same time, information and communication technologies have pervaded almost all aspects of human communication and interaction, from everyday technologies that support interpersonal interactions, such as email and instant messaging, to more sophisticated systems that support organizational interactions.

His idea: that while the impersonality of online interaction can encourage mild fibbing, the fact that it leaves a permanent record of verifiable facts actually keeps us on the straight and narrow."

ESI-Logo.jpg Does your EAP measure up? If you'd like to learn more about turbocharging your employee benefit package, reducing absenteeism, and enhancing productivity, call us today: 800-535-4841.

November 10, 2012

How to honor our veterans: Hire them!

Looking for some dependable, disciplined, team players who are experienced at performing under pressure? You can't do better than hiring a veteran. And if you hire a qualified veteran who begins work before January 1, 2013, you may be eligible for a tax credit. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is a provision in the VOW to Hire Heroes Act 2011 that allows employers to claim the WOTC for qualified veterans. Credits can range as high as $9,600 per qualified veteran for for-profit employers or up to $6,240 for qualified tax-exempt organizations. There are a number of factors that determine the credit amount, including the length of the veteran's unemployment before hire, the number of hours the veteran works, and the veteran's first-year wages. Learn more about potential tax credits for hiring veterans from the IRS.

Here are a few resources:

CareerOneStop - Hiring resources for businesses and human resources managers.

Workplace Warriors: The Corporate Response to Deployment and Reintegration (PDF)
Highlighting Best Practices in Human Resources and Disability Management
Employers can help America's heroes succeed in the workplace by offering employee assistance and mentoring programs, advised the Workplace Warrior Think Tank - the first-of-its-kind group launched by the Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC), the leading developer of employee health and productivity strategies, and three of the nation's leading disability insurers - The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc., MetLife and Unum.

For Employers: Helping Employees Reintegrate into Civilian Employment
A veteran’s return to work following a deployment or mobilization is an employment transition, and he or she often brings new skills of leadership, teamwork and a broadened perspective that can be invaluable to your organization. Additionally, like any other employee making a transition, a veteran’s transition may face some unusual circumstances. This resource helps employers understand how to help ease the reintegration of veterans in a number of ways.

Tips for Workforce Professionals on Assisting Veterans in the Job Search Process
Connect veterans, transitioning service members, and their families with career planning, training, job search, and other resources to help smooth their transition to civilian life.

esi.JPG Returning service members face the challenge of reintegration in the family, the workplace, the community. Some will face the special challenges of coping with physical or psychological wounds, such as PTSD. ESI EAP offers members a variety of services addressing the challenges of military deployment. We also have resources for employers. To learn more about how ESI EAP can help, give us a call: 800-535-4841.

November 9, 2012

OSHA's Top 10 Workplace Violations

If OSHA were to come knocking at your door, how ready would you be? Do you know your organization's most likely safety vulnerabilities? At the recent National Safety Council Congress & Expo, OSHA announced the 10 most frequently cited workplace safety violations for fiscal year 2012. These include:

  • Fall Protection
  • Hazard Communication
  • Scaffolding
  • Respiratory Protection
  • Ladders
  • Machine Guarding
  • Powered Industrial Trucks
  • Electrical Wiring
  • Lockout / Tagout
  • Electrical - General

You can learn the most common citations for a specific industry SIC code using an OSHA tool - simply enter the 4-digit Standard Industrial Classification code and the number of employees in your organization.

Worker injuries and deaths
In 2011, 4,609 workers were killed on the job in 2011 - almost 90 a week or nearly 13 deaths every day. The four most common work-related fatal injury events include highway/motor vehicle events, homicides, falls, and being struck by objects. Learn more at the Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) page.

Every year, nearly 4 million people suffer an on-the-job workplace injury. See the Nonfatal Occupational Injuries and Illnesses Requiring Days Away From Work, 2011.

The top 7 occupations with an incidence rate of more than 300 injuries per 10,000 full time workers were:

  • Police and sheriff’s patrol officers
  • Nursing aides, orderlies and attendants
  • Light truck or delivery service drivers
  • Laborers and freight, stock and material movers
  • Correctional officers
  • Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers
  • Janitors and cleaners

What if OSHA comes knocking on your door?
OSHA can inspect any workplace at any time and usually they arrive unannounced. In 2011, federal and state OSHA divisions conducted more than 90,000 inspections. Most OSHA inspections occur as a follow-up to an accident or in response to a complaint, although some industries with higher than average injuries command more attention from OSHA. For example, in April, OSHA announced a National Emphasis Program for Nursing and Residential Care Facilities due to the high rate of injuries and lost workdays in that sector. OSHA noted that, "The incidence rate for cases involving days away from work in the nursing and residential care sector was 2.3 times higher than that of all private industry as a whole, despite the availability of feasible controls to address hazards." Another industry that has been under OSHA scrutiny are grain bin operators after a record number of fatalities, including several involving teen workers.

BLR Safety Daily Advisor offers a two-part series on What to expect from an OSHA inspection and How to prepare for an OSHA inspection.

esi.JPG Learn how ESI Employee Assistance Program can help address your employees' wellbeing issues - from a wellness benefits and help for everyday work-life matters to comprehensive assistance for a wide array of potentially disruptive issues and problems.

November 2, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Recovery Toolkit

Shelters & Housing
To search for open shelters: text SHELTER and a Zip Code to 43362 (4FEMA)
For example, if you lived in Washington, DC you would text: SHELTER 20472
Before you go to a shelter, always check with your local emergency management agency for availability & services. Also: Search for Red Cross Shelters

FEMA Housing Portal - help for individuals and families who have been displaced by a disaster to find a place to live. The portal consolidates rental resources identified and provided by federal agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Veterans Administration (VA), private organizations, and the public, to help individuals and families find available rental units in their area.

State Specific FEMA Disaster Relief

Google Crisis Map - Map with power outages, shelters, weather and more

Food Bank Locator

Connecticut Hurricane Sandy - Major Disaster Declaration declared on October 30, 2012
The following counties under PA-B include direct federal assistance: Fairfield County, Mashantucket Pequot Indian Reservation, Middlesex County, New Haven County and New London County. See also: Connecticut Office of the Governor

New Hampshire Hurricane Sandy - Emergency Declaration declared on October 30, 2012

New Jersey Hurricane Sandy - Major Disaster Declaration declared on October 30, 2012
The following counties under PA-B include direct federal assistance: Atlantic County, Cape May County, Essex County, Hudson County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Ocean County and Union County. The New Jersey Hurricane Sandy Information Center offers news updates and alerts, hotlines and resources. See also The NJ Office of Emergency Management.

New York Hurricane Sandy - Major Disaster Declaration declared on October 30, 2012
The following counties under PA-B include direct federal assistance: Bronx County, Kings County, Nassau County, New York County, Queens County, Richmond County and Suffolk County. NYC.gov posts recovery updates and news, including information about food & water distribution points, shelters, school closures, and more. Also see the NYC Google Crisis Map and the NY Governor's Office

West Virginia Hurricane Sandy - Emergency Declaration declared on October 29, 2012

Other states - State Offices and Agencies of Emergency Management

Disaster Recovery Centers (DRC)
Search by testing: To search for open Disaster Recovery Centers, text: DRC and a Zip Code to 43362 (4FEMA). For example, if you lived in Washington, DC you would text: DRC 20472

DisasterAssistance.Gov - information on how you might be able to get help from the U.S. Government before, during and after a disaster. Learn what help you might be able to apply for from 17 government agencies in Spanish and English, apply for help from FEMA online, reduce the number of forms you have to fill out, shorten the time it takes to apply for aid, check the progress of your applications online and more. Fill out a questionnaire to learn which assistance programs you may be eligible for and apply for assistance.

Telephone Helplines
If your employer has an EAP, that's a good place to start. But if you or someone you know needs immediate help and you don't have an EAP, here are some resources:

  • SAMSHA's Disaster Distress helpline - Call 1-800-985-5990 or Text TalkWithUs to 66746 and TTY for Deaf/Hearing Impaired: 1-800-846-8517
  • Question about Government Services - Call 1-800-FED INFO (1-800-333-4636) if you have questions about government services, but don't know what agency to contact.
  • American Red Cross - Call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) for information on evacuation, shelter, and assistance.
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (1-888-628-9454 for Spanish-speaking callers)
  • Clean-up hazards & safety - call 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636), TTY 1-888-232-6348, for information on preventing illness and injury. Available 24/7 in English and Spanish
  • To report oil,chemical, or hazardous substance releases or spills, call the National Response Center 800-424-8802
  • Food Safety - Call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at: 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or Email to mphotline.fsis@usda.gov
  • Lost Bank Records, ATM Cards, Reach Your Bank and More Call 1-877-ASK-FDIC (1-877-275-3342) TDD 1-800-925-4618
  • National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline 866-720-5721 from the Department of Justice
  • Small Business Administration Business Disaster Loans
    Call 1-800-659-2955 TTY 1-800-877-8339 for business disaster loan program information.

Health & Safety Resources
Prevent and Treat Other Illnesses and Injuries After a Hurricane or Flood - Excellent information from the CDC about common post-disaster hazards and how to stay safe.

What Consumers Need to Know About Food and Water Safety During Hurricanes, Power Outages, and Floods -- info from the FDA.

Be Red Cross Ready - Flood Safety Checklist (PDF)

Recover after a hurricane. - EPA information on safety around generators, after flooding, mold cleanup and more, for homes, schools, and facilities.

Medical Device and Hurricane Emergencies - During natural disasters, medical devices may be exposed to fluctuating power, contaminants, or unusual levels of heat or humidity. These resources offer information about using medical devices during and following emergency situations due to hurricanes.

Mental and Emotional Health
Coping with Disasters - The emotional toll that disaster brings can sometimes be even more devastating than the financial strains of damage and loss of home, business, or personal property. This FEMA resource offers information on understanding common human reactions to disaster events and recognizing signs of disaster related stress and strategies for easing stress. Also, information on helping lids cope with disaster and typical children's reactions to disaster by age.

Common Reactions After Trauma - Most people have some kind of stress reaction after a trauma. Having such a reaction has nothing to do with personal weakness. Stress reactions may last for several days or even a few weeks. For most people, if symptoms occur, they will slowly decrease over time. All kinds of trauma survivors commonly experience stress reactions. This is true for veterans, children, and disaster rescue or relief workers. If you understand what is happening when you or someone you know reacts to a traumatic event, you may be less fearful and better able to handle things.

Tips for Survivors of a Traumatic Event - Managing Your Stress (PDF) - When you are exposed to traumatic events such as natural disaster, be aware of how these events can affect you personally. Most people show signs of stress after the event. These signs are normal. Over time, as your life gets back to normal, they should decrease. After a stressful event, monitor your own physical and mental health. Know the signs of stress in yourself and your loved ones. Know how to relieve stress. And know when to get help.

Self-Care After Disasters - Natural and technological disasters impact survivors, bereaved family members, witnesses to the event, and friends of those involved. Rescue workers, emergency medical and mental health care providers, and volunteers are also affected. Disasters can also impact members of the media, as well as citizens of the community, the country, and the world. Disasters can cause a number of different stress reactions in those affected. There are many steps you can take to manage stress after a disaster.

Coping with Traumatic Stress Reactions - When trauma survivors take direct action to cope with their stress reactions, they put themselves in a position of power. Active coping with the trauma makes you begin to feel less helpless.

Effects of Disasters: Risk and Resilience Factors - Learn about factors that make it more likely that someone will have more severe or longer- lasting stress reactions after disasters

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
An easy-to-read booklet on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that explains what it is, when it starts, how long it lasts, and how to get help.

Talking with kids about disasters
Dramatic images repeated on the news or talked about at school can be upsetting to adults, but even more so to kids who may not have the life experience to put things in perspective. This can lead to anxiety or fear about many of the things being discussed: natural disasters, disruption, loss, and death. We've put together a few resources for parents and teachers to help discuss these things with kids.

Other Practicalities
Replace your vital documents - links to information about replacing military service records, passports, birth, marriage & death certificates, and other important records. It includes links to information about restoring damaged documents and money.

IRS: Disaster Assistance and Emergency Relief for Individuals and Businesses - Special tax law provisions may help taxpayers and businesses recover financially from the impact of a disaster, especially when the federal government declares their location to be a major disaster area. Depending on the circumstances, the IRS may grant additional time to file returns and pay taxes. Both individuals and businesses in a federally declared disaster area can get a faster refund by claiming losses related to the disaster on the tax return for the previous year, usually by filing an amended return.

Ways to Help
Many who are not directly affected by a disaster want to find a way to help. It's important to use caution in making donations and to donate to legitimate organizations. If you want to help the recovery effort, here are some ways that you can do that.

Post-Disaster Charity and Home Repair Scams
Sadly, there is no shortage of fraudulent opportunists willing to take advantage of people's generous nature. Be particularly careful of solicitations via phone, email, or social networking sites. The FTC Warns Consumers: Charity and Home Repair Scams May Appear After a Disaster. See the FTC Charity Checklist to get tips on how to avoid scams. You can also check out more a charity in advance through the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance.

Disaster Recovery Scams – The FTC talks about common disaster recovery scams.

After a Disaster: Repairing Your Home - If your house has been damaged by a natural disaster, you may look for a reputable contractor to help with repair and restoration. Inevitably, the demand for qualified contractors after a disaster usually exceeds the supply. Enter the home repair rip-off artist, who may overcharge, perform shoddy work or skip town without finishing your job. This guide from the Federal Trade Commission the Federal Emergency Management Agency offers tips for consumers who may be facing major repairs after a disaster.

Disaster Fraud – The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud discusses post-disaster contractors and adjusters fraud.

Report Fraud: The FTC works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint or get free information on consumer issues, visit ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261.

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